As I am writing this article, I am very disappointed. I was supposed to meet a friend I had not seen for several months and she just canceled our meeting. To make things worse, I received the message just when I arrived at the meeting point. Disappointment comes along with his friends anger, frustration and exasperation. Obviously, my jackal is kicking in. “Really, she could have told me earlier. It is the second time she cancels on me. Does she really want to meet or not?”
Of course, I could go on like that for hours on end. But thanks to my NVC set of skills, I know that I am hurting myself and potentially a relationship with a friend. So, as NVC wisely suggest, I turn to my feelings and needs. How do I feel that my friend is not coming to the meeting? I feel frustrated, disappointed, a little angry and exasperated. And what are the needs behind them? I have a need for connection and sharing, I was eager to share with her what happened to me in the last few months and to know what happened to her. I feel frustrated and disappointed because I have to wait until next time we meet. I have a need for respect, I took time to see her, and I am a little angry because I could have done something else. A need for trust, I expect people to show up for a meeting and I feel exasperated when people do not respect a promise.
Now, I feel a little better. Taking time, to hear my feelings and what needs of mine were unmet brings some kind of relief. The missing appointment was just a stimulus, my emotions are not my friend’s responsibility, they are only mine.
To make things even better now that the stimulus is less disturbing, I can turn to the needs I am meeting just by being here. The first is the need for sun and heat. I am outside, it is winter time but I can feel the heat of the sun on my face, and I love it. My needs for fresh air and recreation are also met, I am enjoying a nice park with my daughter. This was an occasion to write an article, so it also meets my need for creativity. And now, I feel really good. I am even grateful that I came.
Being able to hear and feel our emotions is a gift. If we are equipped with the ability of feeling, I am convinced there is good reason. Society is teaching us to be what Marshall Rosenberg called “nice dead people”, that is to say, people without emotions, complying with what society wants. Nonviolent communication teaches us how to use our emotions to our advantage and to the benefit of others.